Because I suck at life and everything in it and I want to crawl in a hole and die.
Everyone handles the struggle differently, I choose to retreat into a shell. I focus on the negative things happening in life and I let those negative things dominate not only my thoughts, but my life. I make up stories that aren’t happening, but in my head they seem perfectly logical. My brain goes straight to the worst case scenario.
There are things about small business ownership that can be the best parts of my life. After doing this thing for 7 years, I’ve come to really appreciate the good moments of the work. Moments that reward, like telling a great story of good work, or like having someone on the team that is just in the perfect role and loves what they do. It is in these moments that you so clearly see what you do and why you do it. But that steel ball of clarity can quickly turn into the slippery blob of goo.
About 3 years ago, Final 5 decided to shift our focus of work from video production to telling stories. In order to continue funding the business, we stuck pretty tight to the way we had always done business. We continued with our video clientele, and since it’s what we were known for, took in lots of new business focused around that model, but we weren’t evolving as storytellers. In 2015 the decision was made to truly shift our focus. If we were to be the story telling organization we longed to be, we would need a real shift in how we approach business. We still wanted to make film, we just wanted to do other things that complimented the types of stories we were seeing. How do you get organizations you care about to buy a product you had never made before? We decided to donate a couple of different projects to companies with whom we really wanted to work. We spent weeks working on important projects for clients that were interested in our work (and even one that wasn’t). Combine this shift in focus withe the hiring of two new people, and this caused the organization to begin struggling financially, and things have gotten tight. I mean, putting that many resources towards projects that aren’t paying seems like not such a great idea in hindsight, but I took a chance, ya know? We jumped off the cliff. While I was expecting some fall back in revenue, I was in no way prepared for what my actions would produce.
And when the money became a big worry because of a result of my own actions, I began doubting myself, as I often have in the past. I vividly imagine that no one’s ever going to buy our product again, because I can’t even recall the feeling of closing a deal. And this whole madness feeds on itself. Bad thoughts beget bad thoughts and before I know it, I’m in a downward spiral. I’ve forgotten how to talk about our work, how to communicate benefits, and I sure as shit don’t want to pick up the phone or send out an email, “just so I can hear another ‘no.’”
When I take my head out of my ass, I know none of this to be true. I know that I’m in the middle of a script that was written long before I was even alive and that while it’s my choice to fall into it, it’s also my choice to not fall into it, or to see it for what it is and to pull myself out of it. I’ve been practicing mindfulness every morning using a guided meditation app on my phone and it’s really helping me to understand that my thoughts don’t define me, they’re simply thoughts and they can be let go as quickly as they come in.
Final 5 is diversifying its product line, which helps make it easier and more cost effective to work with us. And we’ve got Jen in the project / account manager role, and she’s just killing it, so our process is stronger than it’s ever been, which is allowing us to do better work with less resources. So things are moving forward again. We’ve got some smaller projects coming in, so companies can begin to feel the power of story, and then possibly buy in deeper so we can put more of the weight of final 5 behind the work. It’s a good lesson in resource management, and I’m looking forward to never making that mistake again.
The question is, what is the next mistake I will make and how large of an impact will it have on the organization? And maybe more important, how do I handle it when it comes? I think I’ll be able to see that it’s not a reflection of me, but of my actions. And maybe I can write a new script this time.